"You didn't hear that? You're kidding me!" A colleague exclaimed incredulously during a one-on-one meeting just yesterday. His work-from-home address overlooks a busy intersection in a bustling community. In years past, it was not uncommon to hear sirens, horns, or other outside noise, along with colorful commentary of what my colleague just witnessed (I keep telling him he could make a fortune with a camera and a tik tok account). While sometimes providing levity during informal meetings, these occurrences would send him scrambling to hit the mute button, or apologizing for the disruption during customer or partner meetings.
Fortunately, these disruptions are minimized, thanks to Microsoft's use of AI and machine learning to improve the audio and video quality of Teams meetings - and I still get to get the occassional funny story.
In a previous post, I discussed the importance and value of providing outbound court notifications. Today we'll take a look at some best practices for sending effective outbound notifications.
There are multiple posts and sources, including the link below, which cite that reminding people of court dates, when combined with other messages regarding the consequences of FTA (failure to appear), is more effective than just sending date, time and location notifications.
In addition, notifications are being customized with remote appearance instructions (number to call along with PIN, or video link information) or Covid-related instructions, such as "if you are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms or have tested positive in the last 10 days, please call the court."
Frequency and Quantity of Messages
Depending on the type of event, consider sending multiple notifications leading up to the event date and time. In the example of an upcoming hearing, an initial notification might be sent two weeks before the hearing date, followed by additional reminders one week, one day and two hours prior to the scheduled time. It can also be beneficial to send notifications after events for FTA or past due payments.
It can be useful to provide notifications in multiple ways, and if sending multiple notifications for a single event, it might be good to combine different types of notifications, such as post cards, emails, automated calls and text messages.
The New York City Criminal Justice Agency has provided a comprehensive publication that shares summary data from multiple studies, and delves deeper into best practices, including data collection, messaging templates, when to send notifications, how to evaluate the success of your program and more.
We get notifications reminding us of our many things in our daily lives, such as dentist appointments, package deliveries, or the expected arrival time of the cable TV repair technician. There has been a dramatic increase in usage by the public sector - perhaps most notably regarding the Covid-19 vaccine. While attending the NACM (National Association of Court Management) in mid-July, we had some interesting conversations that underscored the importance of court notifications, the focus of this post.
Courts use notifications for a variety of things, including jury service reminders, hearing reminders, payment reminders, collections notices and more. When it comes to criminal cases, nationwide, 35% of defendants fail to appear for court dates. As a result, warrants are issued, people are detained for days weeks depending on the nature of the charges, and the court date is rescheduled. This slows down an already backlogged system, and the cost of issuing and serving warrants and detaining people is staggering. Courts that have implemented hearing reminders have experienced a reduction in failures to appear, and since the cost of each reminder is pennies, it is a valuable tool.
Payment reminders are an effective way of improving cash flow. Collections notices are also effective because most people want to avoid being sent to a collection agency and courts want to avoid this because a significant percentage of the revenue is often retained by collection agencies - as much as 25% or more. Jury reminders are now offered by jury management system providers and IVR system providers alike, and help to improve jury yields.
By selecting the right solution for your needs and following best practices, the impact and value of these reminders will be optimized. We will cover this topic on a future post.
ATI Connect is excited to return to the NACM Annual conference next week in San Diego, and we look forward to building new relationships as well as seeing our long-time friends and colleagues.
Patrick Bahar and Victor Aranda will be at booth #112 and will be sharing advancements ATI have made in the past year with the streamWrite Portals platform and the exciting plans we have to help Courts improve access to justice and move toward the digital courtrooms of the future.
Stop by booth #112 to say hello and learn more.